On October 1, 1973, the Mets beat the Cubs 6-4 on the last day of season for their 82nd win. The teams were supposed to have a doubleheader that afternoon, but heavy rains in the Chicago led umpires to call the second contest before it began. The fact that the Mets clinched the NL East pennant with the victory, thus rendering the need to play any more games moot, probably factored into the decision, too.
Back home in the Big Apple, leading mayoral candidate Abe Beame told the Times that a Mets' second division title in four years was "terrific!" and "great for New York!" Meanwhile, actual mayor John V. Lindsay issued a statement that read, "The Mets are the best! This miracle tops '69."
It clearly didn't though. In 1969, the Mets were a team coming off seven straight losing seasons that rode exceptional pitching and good defense to a 100-win season and a World Series. The '73 edition, for all its "Ya Gotta Believe" attitude, won just three more games than it lost and, like every post-championship team, had the burden of expectation. Each squad mirrored the personality of the city's top official. John Lindsay sprayed champagne in the clubhouse with the Miracle Mets and later rode his own late surge to come from behind reelection victory. As for Beame and the '73 team? Well, neither captured the imaginations of New Yorkers the way their predecessors did. Also, they both spent the next four years approaching financial ruin.
- Former reliever Buzz Capra (1971-73) becomes Medicare eligible today. He can probably use the benefits, too, as he's been retired for the last 35 years.
- Local product Pete Falcone (1979-82) turns 59. A graduate of Brooklyn's Lafayette High, he's the third best lefty to come out of the secondary school. No shame in that, considering the southpaws ahead of him are John Franco and Sandy Koufax.
- Chuck Hiller (1965-67) would have been 78. Playing for the Giants in the 1962 World Series, Hiller became the first National League player to hit a Fall Classic grand slam. Over 635 plate appearances as Met, he connected for seven round trippers. All were of the solo variety.
- One of only two pitchers to play exclusively for the Mets and Yankees, Brandon Knight (2008) is 37. His ERA was 10.71 in pinstripes, compared to 5.25 while wearing orange and blue, so presumably Knight enjoyed his time in Queens twice as much.
- Like rapper Bun B, pitcher/1999 Met Chuck McElroy, 45, is a native of Port Arthur, Texas. Also like Bun B, Chuck reps the Trill and is all about making that dolla bill. Roughly $8.6 million of them over the course of his 13-year career, according to Baseball Reference
- Had he not passed away earlier this year, Bob Myrick (1976-78) would have turned 60 today. A 20th round selection in the 1974 draft who, according to his SABR bio, "would have signed for a phone card and a cup of coffee," Myrick amassed 0.6 WAR pitching out of the pen. That mark is actually the highest among all players picked by the Mets in the '74 draft. Not a good year for the scouting department.
- Jeff Reardon is 57. Briefly baseball's all-time saves leader (he broke Rollie Fingers's record in 1992, only to be surpassed by Lee Smith the following season), the Terminator, as he was nicknamed, closed the door on ten Met victories between 1979 and 1981.
- John Thomson, 39, made nine starts during the 2002 stretch run. Acquired in a deadline deal with the Rockies, Thomson's batting stats improved upon leaving Coors Field. So much so that he was actually more valuable to the Mets with the bat than his arm, according to rWAR.
Game of Note
When the Mets acquired Kenny Rogers at the 1999 trade deadline, one assumes they were hoping for more performances like the one he delivered on October 1 against the Pirates. The Gambler knew when to hold and fold ‘em, striking out ten Bucs and permitting just seven base runners in seven and third innings. However, Jason Schmidt was just as good for Pittsburgh, despite not having a cool, poker-themed nickname and so the game remained knotted 2-2 until the bottom of the 11th. That's when Robin Ventura forced home the winning run with a bases loaded single. Unlike a certain other extra inning, bases loaded, game-ending hit he'd collect later in the month, this one stayed in the ball park. Final score: Mets 3, Pirates 2.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
On this date in 1928, the Soviet Union introduced its first Five-Year Plan for modernizing the county's economy. The Mets are in the midst of their own modernization, though one presumes Sandy Alderson is more concerned with the team's ability to produce better than league-average bats than several million tons of pig iron.